Skip to main content

tv   Countdown With Keith Olbermann  MSNBC  December 22, 2009 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

10:00 pm
so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious! okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro. okay. seriously, you choose. d about him from all the other girls. we were working at the same company. and she was something else. announcer: take care of each other, and your health. with nature made cholestoff. cholestoff helps lower ldl cholesterol, the bad kind, naturally, by using the same types of phytonutrients found in nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables. he makes me laugh. he still does, but it's nice. announcer: learn how to lower your cholesterol, naturally, at
10:01 pm
nature made. fuel your greatness. last week we reported cpac would be sponsored this year by the john birch society and went on to outline the ketd l that john birch society has always been. the john birch society said we had done a disservice, we were hideous lie ars. turns out we weren't at all.
10:02 pm
it's the brimming kettle of cubing endry we described. because they challenged us on it, we're going to have a really good time proving it on tomorrow's show. we're delighted to do it. but we have to go right now because "countdown" is about to start. bye peay. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? just in time for christmas. 'twas the night before christmas and all through the senate. >> the senate leadership reaches a tentative deal that will allow the full chamber to vote on the health care bill the morning of christmas eve, all so they can get home in time for the holidays. >> let's just all try to get along. >> but are the republicans willing to reach an agreement on, say, saving the planet? >> we are running short on time. >> or time for republicans to plan their next obstruction. after health care, the party of no, takes aim at climate change. >> don't come up in my face
10:03 pm
and blocking the process. >> talk isn't cheap, not when it comes to the oracle stylings of rnc chief michael steele, whose full-time job is basically to speak on behalf of the gop. so why is he hitting up the groups he addresses with a speaking fee? >> michael steele, you be the man. and 2009 will be remembered as the year that "countdown" and just about everyone else saw carrie prejean in all of her glory. >> they tried to embarrass me. they've tried to humiliate me. they've tried to attack me, and i'm still standing. >> actually, she managed to do that all by herself. all the news and commentary now on "countdown." >> you're being inappropriate. good evening from new york,
10:04 pm
i'm lawrence o'donnell in for keith olbermann. america's largest union of registered nurses today came out against the senate health care bill saying it will make the health care crisis worse. so perhaps no surprise that in our fifth story tonight, senate republicans have gone from telling tea party supporters they will fight to the last to helping democrats pass it faster. senate republican leader mitch mcconnell had once insisted that republicans would force the debate to continue up to the last minute. christmas eve at can p.m., 9:00 or even later. but with the midwest facing an ice storm that might play havoc with their travel plans, today mcconnell got his republicans to agree to cut debate short so they can all get going at 8:00 a.m. on christmas eve morning. this because they don't really care about the symbolic gesture anymore and they want to spend more time with their families,
10:05 pm
of course. or just possibly they don't want to endure any more debate after it reached this level today. >> 'twas the night before christmas and all through the senate, the right held up a health care bill, no matter what was in it. despite the obstructionist tactics of some, the filibuster had broken, the people had won. and a good bill was ready for president obama, ready to sign and end health care drama. the democrats explained as they drove out of sight, better coverage for all, even our friends on the right. >> president obama had already said he would stay in town, holding off departure for his hawaiian christmas until senate passage of the bill. but today nnu, national nurses united, representing 150,000
10:06 pm
registered nurses around the country, released a statement saying, quote -- joining us tonight from the senate is california's democratic senator barbara boxer. great thanks for your time tonight, senator. the criticism has been pouring in from the left. i have joined in some of that criticism. you saw me on this network this morning on "morning joe" joining in some of that criticism. you called me immediately afterward to set me straight. what are we missing in what
10:07 pm
needs to be said about this bill to liberal supporters of health care reform, supporters of universal coverage who are disappointed in this bill? >> well, i want to talk to everybody, whether they're liberal or conservative. i think, you know, this is an issue that should join us together because when sickness strikes, it doesn't matter what your political philosophy is, lawrence. what we know is that every single day, 14,000 americans lose their health care and 62% of bankruptcies are linked to a health care crisis. so we can't wait. we have to act. i would love a perfect bill. and i think you well know that i supported the public option. but i do believe -- and i see it in howard dean where he's backtracked from where he was totally opposed to this. if you look at this bill and you set aside all the rancor and all the money that's being spent on ads on both side and everything else, we see that we are moving in the right direction.
10:08 pm
because the minute this bill is passed, our seniors will be able to afford that prescription drug plan that they have. they won't fall into that doughnut hole. medicare will be extended nine years. medicare is a public option. medicaid, we're going to work our way up to taking in 14 million more people. we'll be setting up exchanges. but before we do, there will be a high risk pool so people who can't get insurance will be able to get that insurance. and in 2011, which is pretty soon, it's going to be clear to the insurance companies that they have to only spend 15% of what they take in on their overhead, including their executive pay. i could go on and on. the fact is, i look back to the debate on social security, on medicare. and the echos of those debates really fill the senate chamber. and it's very, very similar. why do we have to rush?
10:09 pm
we shouldn't do this. it isn't perfect. and those who didn't want to start social security, medicare, said the same things. we are on a track to do something good for the people. i believe that in my heart. i wouldn't support it if i didn't think it. and the insurance companies are spending millions to derail it. so even though that nurses group -- i don't know that particular group. i know there are many other organizations supporting, including doctors. the fact of the matter is the insurers are spending millions of dollars in opposition. so i think we're doing the right thing here. >> senator boxer, is there anything that can be improved in the senate bill in conference? i mean, with senator nelson saying, if you change anything, i'll vote against it, is there any chance to improve anything in the conference? >> i don't think he's saying if you change anything. he had drawn the line in the sand in a few places. but i'll give you some examples. i think there are a few things in this bill that are really
10:10 pm
important, such as the nonprofit plans that will be set up with -- by the office of personnel management. i think we could make the rules stronger for those groups that try to get into the exchange. these are things we can do. maria cantwell has a terrific provision in this bill which gets no notoriety at all, where states will have the option to take the tax credits, which would go to a certain income level of folks in their state and run a state plan, a public option. so, yes, i think there are many ways -- i've been talking to my friend on the house side. and i think we can improve it even more. >> what about on the abortion provision, senator? is there any way of changing the nelson position? or are we going to go more toward the stupak position? >> well, the -- it isn't the nelson provision. nelson wanted stupak. we were able to find a fair compromise that both sides are unhappy with, which i think says
10:11 pm
we did the right thing. what did we do? we made sure that there is a firm wall between federal funds and private funds. and we have to do that, because of the hyde amendment says you can't mix in those funds. so we set up an accounting procedure to do that. i think it's very fair. i talked to my house colleagues. i hope that we can all come together. >> california democratic senator barbara boxer. i really appreciate your coming on tonight. >> thanks for having me. politico today reports washington lobbyists are having the biggest year ever, on track to spend more than $3.3 billion to lobby the federal government, despite the fact washington now has 1500 fewer registered lobbyists. among the groups topping last year's totals are the drug group f phrma and spending $p.6 million in the first three months of
10:12 pm
2009. "usa today" reporting that senator dodd has received $210,000 in donations this year from health-related political action committees. his successor as health committee chairman tom harkin got $sic,000. max baucus has taken in $2.5 million but that's since 2005. let's bring in ezra klein who covers economic and domestic issues for "the washington post." good to have you join us tonight, ezra. let's get to those numbers. to be fair about those numbers, some of that money includes very strong supporters of health care reform, who are participants in the health care sector also, who are being included in those numbers. but what do we get in this general sense of the overall lobbying spending that's going on in washington and how it has affected this bill? >> you know, you get what we're having on essentially all issues now, which is the increasing lack of ledges massey in
10:13 pm
washington's decisions. it isn't that chris dodd was so taken in on what he was lobbied in. most of his opinions have been fairly good. >> quickly, can we just stop there. >> anybody who doesn't agree -- >> stop for a second to illustrate the point. no one in the senate that i'm aware of has fought harder for provisions that the insurance company do not want like the public option and other things. then chris dodd did, and he comes from a state where many of those insurance companies are housed. and so it's not always clear that you can follow the money to influence that involves a quid pro quo. >> but here's -- but that gets you to the exact problem, right. what you can do is look at that money and look at the outcomes and say this doesn't smell right to me. i think people in this country do it all the time. whether or not you want to make the argument that these guys were bought or whether or not you want to make the argument they shouldn't be letting these folks into their office. there is a real procedural problem here until we get some serious campaign finance reform and serious lobbying reform in
10:14 pm
this country where nothing of this looks legitimate to the american people and they're right to be suspicious of it. when you hear -- there's a great article, i want to say either in my paper or "the new york times" a while back how max baucus' former chief of staffer worked for lobbying firms and they can get into the office to talk to him. there's a real reason people look at this and say, it doesn't make sense to me. it's something i think the senate and the house should be a lot more concerned about. you'd think they'd want people to view them more highly. >> and with billions of dollars at take in this sector, billions upon billions, for as far as the eye can see, $6 million in lobbying money doesn't sound like a lot to me. and it seems like there's been a pretty good return in terms of provisions in this bill that keep most of the players in the health care sector happy. isn't that the way it looks right now? >> well, you know, i'd actually put it a little bit differently. what really mattered here was not the lobbying money that they used but the money they held in
10:15 pm
reserve. take pharma. people were really afraid, i heard, of letter pharma go after this bill. the reason was unlike the insurers or device manufacturers, pharma is incredibly rich. they had so much money sitting back there, they really -- people came in from the beginning and wanted to sit down, make sure pharma wasn't going full bore. it's not just the lobbying but the fear of the money these industries have. frankly, the big problem here is it's a great investment for them. it is a lot of money for a senator or a group of senators to $100 million in lobbying. if you somehow could. for these industries to get a good provision in this bill, they can get a return of 50 times, 1,000 times that. we have a moment where they have a lot of money for our system but our system controls a lot more money than that.
10:16 pm
so it just makes good business sense to lobby washington. >> if this bill passes, the enforcement for much of what's in the bill shifts to the state. it is delegated to the states. so the lobbying, then, it seems to me, moves to the states, doesn't it, on these enforcement issues? >> some of it will. and i think you'll see a couple of things. one is that you'll have these national plans, too. so if things break down too much on the state level, you'll see people flood into the national plans. the other is it's going state by state there. my state, home state california has strong insurance regulations. others don't at all. so i think it's going to be easier for insurance to lobby in some states and others will be much tougher. we have to see how it plays out and how we have to fix it down the road. >> ezra klein of "the washington post." thanks for your insights tonight. up next, putting profits over people. insurance companies are already planning to game the system to fight one of the few industry reforms to find its way into the health care bill. we'll tell you how. and later, republicans in
10:17 pm
the senate prepare for their next act of obstructionism, having watered down health care reform, they'll be targeting climate change next. stay with us. can trade online tdd# 1-800-345-2550 through your schwab account - for free! tdd# 1-800-345-2550 yup, schwab clients can trade any of these tdd# 1-800-345-2550 w exchange-traded funds, online... commission-free! tdd# 1-800-345-2550 trade large-cap... for free. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 trade small-cap... for free. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 trade international... for free. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 trade one, trade a few... tdd# 1-800-345-2550 ...for free! tdd# 1-800-345-2550 only schwab clients. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 only online at schwab. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 tdd#1-800-345-2550
10:18 pm
coming up, it's not as if the senate health care bill is heavy on major reform to begin with, but insurance companies are already searching for ways to pretend they're playing by the rules. all to keep raking in record profits. we'll discuss how with insurance industry veteran wendell potter. that's next. to the table this holiday. from timeless favorites like campbell's green bean casserole to new classics like swanson herb roasted turkey with pan gravy and pepperidge farm holiday brie en croute even clever ideas that give leftovers a full makeover. for inspiration, family pleasing recipes and 15 dollars in valuable coupons, explore the all-new for a very happy holiday.
10:19 pm
camry received 5 star crash safety ratings. but only malibu has onstar. big deal. i'll just use my phone. let's say we crashed. whoops, your phone's gone. onstar automatic crash response can call to see if you're ok. if you don't answer, they can automatically send help. i think i'll ride with you. now during the chevy red tag event, get an '09 malibu with 0 percent apr for 72 months. see red and save green. now at your local chevy dealer.
10:20 pm
it's called medical loss ratio. the amount of money insurers
10:21 pm
must spend on actual health care. our fourth story on the "countdown," it is in the senate bill and insurance companies are already trying to manipulate it. the bill will impose a medical loss ratio of 80/85%. senator jay wreck feller pushed for a 90% threshold and tells "time" magazine customers have a right to know how much is spent on administrative cost and advertising. but as "smartmoney" reports, the insurance companies already see a silver lining in the new mlr regulations. carl mcdonald, a health care analyst for the investment bank oppenheimer and company wrote in a note to clients that the number was workable for insurers, especially if they can label certain items that count as corporate expenses for accounting purposes as health care for purposes of meeting the spending minimum.
10:22 pm
earlier this year, the senate commerce committee investigated medical loss ratios, resulting in aetna admitting it had misreported its revenues that overstated its mlr in the small group market. the aetna then amended its filing to reflect the actual numbers. joining me now is wendell potter, a former executive for cigna and current senior fellow for the center for media and democracy. good evening, wendell. >> good evening, lawrence. >> mlr, medical loss ratios. now, what are the insurance companies thinking about how they're going to approach this new regulation on medical loss ratios? >> just like they did two years ago in california, when that state tried to reform its health care system, there was general agreement among the insurance companies that they can live with an 85% medical loss ratio because they knew they could manipulate the numbers and they could define the terms. in other words, they could make it work for them by being able
10:23 pm
to categorize expenses in certain areas. >> and this is, first of all, designed to cut into their profit margins. will it do that? >> it can if there is significant regulation and we have enough transparency. they need to disclose a lot more than they currently do. insurance companies are notoriously stingy with information. and senator rockefeller is exactly right. we need to know and we need to know in detail exactly what they're doing with their premium dollars. and this is not just for the for-profit companies. senator boxer mentioned that we'll have nonprofits that supposedly will be set up for the exchanges. they're not necessarily wearing the white hats either. when i was in nebraska last week, bluecross and blue shield of nebraska put out one of those bogus surveys saying that the health care reform legislation of the senate would drive rates up when they had recently announced they would increasing one of their premiums 34%. i called and wrote some e-mails
10:24 pm
and asked what are the medical loss ratios. they don't report them. >> senator boxer stressed to me that the medical loss ratios are a very important piece of this legislation. and i agrees that that is true and would be more true if we know exactly howe it's going to be enforced. does the bill indicate who comes to the insurance companies with what badge to enforce this medical loss ratio number on them? >> no, it's not clear to me. and there's a very important thing. when -- we need to know who will be doing the regulating, who will be defining the terms, who will be setting the rules. and i don't think that we have that clarity yet. >> is there anyone currently employed in the u.s. government, at the irs or in the hhs who knows how to enforce this, how to go into an insurance company and figure out what their real medical loss ratio is? >> no, i don't think so. at least, i haven't come across them. one of the things i've learned over the last six months that there's very, very little understanding in washington about how commercial health
10:25 pm
insurance companies work, including on capitol hill. the exceptions are senator rockefeller and his team. i would say that his commerce committee team really understand this more than anybody else. but the people who get it are few and far between. >> no question jay rockefeller knows more about this than any other senator. but his team is not going to be able to go into the insurance companies -- he can have hearings. he can have oversight hearings. let's just say enforcement works even though we don't know how it works. let's assume for a moment enforcement works perfectly. i don't see what would then prevent the insurance companies from simply raising their premiums so their -- the overall revenue is higher so that living with 15% of administrative costs is actually pretty good money for them. >> and that's true. because this legislation doesn't provide any rate regulations. there's nothing in the world really to stop it. the only thing -- there's the expectation that the market will
10:26 pm
create the -- what is needed to keep those rates from going up unnecessarily. but that's -- they're all working in this system, this legislation doesn't really change the system. it's as good as we probably can get. but your premise is correct. >> wendell potter, former executive with cigna insurance and "countdown's" invaluable guide to the health insurance industry. thank you very much for joining us tonight. senate republicans are putting their needs ahead of the planet's. having done all they can to defeat the health care bill, the party of no is now planning to take down climate change next. and later, rnc chairman michael steele has been hitting up the groups he addresses for a speaking fee. have fellow republicans put a hit out on him? if you've taken your sleep aid and you're still fighting to sleep in the middle of the night, why would you go one more round using it ? you don't need a rematch-- but a re-think-- with lunesta.
10:27 pm
lunesta is different. it keys into receptors that support sleep, setting your sleep process in motion. lunesta helps you get the restful sleep you need. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving or engaging in other activities while asleep without remembering it the next day have been reported. abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations or confusion. in depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide, may occur. alcohol may increase these risks. allergic reactions such as tongue or throat swelling occur rarely and may be fatal. side effects may include unpleasant taste, headache, dizziness and morning drowsiness. stop fighting with your sleep. get a free 7-night trial on-line and ask your doctor about switching to lunesta. discover a restful lunesta night. so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious!
10:28 pm
okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro.
10:29 pm
10:30 pm
coming up, the grift that keeps on giving. rnc chairman michael steele is using his position to market himself for paid speeches. he might not be doing anything wrong, so why are people who have had that job before speaking out about the impropriety of it all? and later, there was once a time when no one at "countdown" had ever heard of carrie prejean. how a few choice words led the former beauty queen out of obscurity. walgreens wants to remind you that there's no greater joy than the joy of giving,
10:31 pm
whether you give a little part of yourself or something else. like unique stocking stuffers from walgreens, all at great prices. hey, that tickles! so come in and stuff all your stockings in no time. with a great selection of fun and useful gifts for everyone on your list, walgreens makes stuffing those stockings a breeze. and i like a cold breeze. walgreens. there's a way to find your joy. ♪ not in a million years. guess.
10:32 pm
(announcer) football: $25 you won't guess. shampoo gift basket: $89 it's made with organic berries. oh. (announcer) mouth guard: $10 put it in. try it. see how it fits. it's taffy. nnouncer) getting them something they'll actually enjoy: let meet my teeth. (announcer) priceless this year, let peon and ason help you find the perfect gift with mastercard's gift finder at
10:33 pm
10:34 pm
for the man who struck a heisman pose on this network after republicans under his leadership were wiped out in november's congressional elections, the headline in today's "washington times" must have been tough to swallow. exclusive, ex-rnc chiefs rip steele's speaking fees. in our number three story, when the republican-worshipping "washington times," "the washington times" gets three former chairmen of the republican national committee to bash michael steele, you know the republicans are out for blood. "the times" says testeele, as r chairman, quote --
10:35 pm
steele is paid over $200,000 a year for his rnc work. there are no rules prohibiting him from giving paid speeches. "the times" cites a paid speech at a college in september and an upcoming steele speech at depaul university in chicago. the rnc says "the washington times" report is silly. a spokesperson saying, quote, many democrat and republican national chairmen have regularly received outside income. that didn't keep three past republican chairmen from going on record with their outrage. among them, jim nicholson, a bushie, and rnc chair during the late '90s who told "the times" that steele's job, quote --
10:36 pm
and of course republicans weren't the only ones taking shots at steele. witness this exchange at today's robert gibbs press briefing. >> have you heard that the chairman of the republican national committee twice yesterday said that the democrats are flipping the bird at the american people? >> how much did that interview cost? >> joining me now is eugene robinson, associate editor and pulitzer prize winning columnist for "the washington post" and msnbc political analyst. welcome, eugene. >> great to be here, lawrence. >> first of all, is there any real problem with michael steele doing paid speaking engagements if his employer, the republican national committee, has no rules against it? >> if by problem you mean is there any legal restriction on his giving speeches, apparently there's no rule against it at the rnc, so there's not that kind of problem. but, clearly, there is a problem
10:37 pm
in terms of how other prominent republicans are viewing this. and, you know, the republican party -- a lot of people in washington give paid speeches. the problem, i think, is that the republican party is supposed to stand for something. it's supposed to be an institution whose purpose is itself not to be the aggrandizement of its chairman. so it's supposed to have loftier goals than that, i think. i think that's what people are reacting to. >> eugene, as a reporter, if you make phone calls to former party chairmen on a story where you are looking to see if they have anything negative to say about the current party chairman, in your experience, is it tough to get those phone calls answered? is it tough to get those phone calls returned? doesn't a former party chairman have to, in effect, very consciously go out of his way to give a negative quote about the
10:38 pm
current party chairman? >> well, i think that's a very fair assessment. those phone calls are very tough to get returned. and, actually, let's modify that. let's say a republican party chairman. remember? this is a party that's kind of more buttoned down than the democratic party. and the idea of not one or two -- three former republican party chairmen kind of jumping in and saying that, in their view, this is -- this is not appropriate. it tells you something about the party now. we all know there is an ideological struggle going on within the republican party. i'm not sure this is all ideology, though. i think there simply are questions about michael steele's leadership and the direction he wants to take the party, if indeed there is a concrete direction in which he wants to take the party. >> and these former chairmen know well how to run the republican national committee. there were early stories that have never quite been resolved
10:39 pm
about just how messy things were when michael steele took over there. just in terms of administrative duties and make s. the thing run correctly. they may be disgusted by that, the way that looks to them. but he also has this problem with the right wing of the party where he has kind of said to the tea party people, come on, it's a big tenth, olympia snowe is okay. it seems like there's more than one reason why a former republican party chairman might want to see michael steele replaced quickly at this point, doesn't it? >> well, i think that's also fair to say, lawrence. and, indeed, if you want to give -- identify a michael steele philosophy, you could say he's for a big tent party. he talks about it a lot. it's unclear to me whether he's done a lot about it, but he talks about it. at the same time, i don't think these three chairmen, former chairmen, are necessarily anti-big tent.
10:40 pm
they're not necessarily tea party folks. so there could be something personal going on here as well. >> gene robinson of msnbc and "the washington post." thanks for your time tonight. >> great to be here. coming up, the party of no gets ready to say no to climate change legislation. senator lindsey graham is leaking the playbook. later, "countdown's" very special tribute to the year in carrie prejean. well, family hour special. we've got to keep it clean. and when rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, governor howard dean to talk about the improvements he wants made to the health care bill. ♪
10:41 pm
(announcer) they've been tested, built and driven like no other. and now they're being offered like no other. come to the winter event and get an exceptional offer on the mercedes-benz of your dreams.
10:42 pm
it's our way of showing a little holiday spirit. hurry before the offer ends january 4th. coming up, the republicans are now preparing for next year's fight. they've done their best to kill health care reform. why not stand in the way of saving the planet? and later, carrie prejean is possibly preparing to accuse "countdown" of being
10:43 pm
inappropriate as we prepare to salute her in our tribute to 2009. sometis the little thingsn life feel like our biggt enemies. ripping] feel like our bigg[shower running] they can be damaged... they can be stolen. happily, there's the american express charge card. if somethi you recently bought with theard breaks, it c be repaired... replaced... or yr accountcabe credi. you'll even get membership rewards points with each purchase. and peace of mind when you tvel. can your card say that?
10:44 pm
tough call. well, during the volkswagen sign then drive event, you can get a jetta, tiguan, or award-winning cc for practically just your signature. and volkswagen even covers scheduled maintenance at no cost. it can't be that easy. [ engine revs ] [ tires screech ] [ seat humming ] [ engine revs ] [ seat humming ] [ seat humming ] [ pen scratches ] that was pretty easy. [ male announcer ] sign then drive is back. hurry in and get legendary volkswagen value for practically just your signature. ♪ having inflicted some wound on health care reform, republicans are now threatening to block another major democratic priority. our number two story, the party of no reveals their next target -- climate change legislation. republicans are blaming the health care battle as reason not to back a climate change bill. politico reporting that after
10:45 pm
the partisan fighting, normally gettable republicans are not lending their support. susan collins says cap and trade talks are stalled. lindsey graham, who has been working on a bipartisan bill, says in order for climate change legislation to pass, the climate in the senate needs to change. it makes it hard to do anything because of the way this was handled. with democrats split, the bill won't have much steam without backing from the gop. but senator john kerry promises full steam ahead.
10:46 pm
but senator dick lugar of indiana says cap and trade talks have been delayed by the health care bill almost indefinitely. time now to call in msnbc political analyst richard wolfee also senior strategist at public strategies and author of "renegade: the making of a president." good evening, richard. is that line from senator lugar all we really need to know about where republicans are in this legislation? they are not going to let this happen in an election year? >> pretty much. it's not just republicans, of course. democrats are also deeply troubled by the prospects of the election next year. it is the ultimate in short-term thinking. what has next year versus what happens to the long-term fate of the planet. but there is another calculation. and this is the challenge for the white house and for the democratic allies in congress,
10:47 pm
is to convince republicans this isn't just about the planet or the economy or future technology but there is this geopolitical game going on here. senator kerry was right when he said the president took american credibility on the line in copenhagen. against that, china has been trying to box in america, trying to blame the collapse of everything on to american politics. and republicans are playing into the hands of the chinese that obstructed this whole deal moving forward. so if they really want to help the chinese out, let them grow, let them pollute, let them do whatever they like, they should just go ahead and think about the election. but it's not helping them. it's not helping the country. it's certainly not helping the planet. >> senator kerry is absolutely right when he says the congress is not a one-trick pony. but haven't the republicans become a one-trick pony and that trick is obstructionism? >> oh, i think congress is more of an old, tired workhorse than a one-trick pony. they say they can do two things in two years -- two big things
10:48 pm
in two years, and then they're really tired and have to go away for a long break. when you look at obstructionism, that's the kind of polite way to put it. what the republican party really saw in president obama was a mortal threat to that political future. a guy who could win indiana, north carolina and virginia threatened to really transform american politics. so they had to make him unpalatable, unacceptenable to any kind of moderate or any republican or independent voter. that's what this is about. it's not just saying no. it's making him seem extreme. making the whole agenda out of the mainstream. so obstructionism is a nice way to put it. i think it's much more extreme than that. >> now, lindsey graham has been viciously attacked by some republicans for even thinking about working with democrats on climate change. so doesn't that indicate that the senate republicans are really pushing toward party unity on this one and there won't be any republicans available? >> i think they may be able to
10:49 pm
pick off one or two for the democrats. maybe lindsey graham will come in with something. but they are putting a huge amount of pressure. and this kind of party unity has worked for republicans. it has helped them rebuild themselves with their base. they've held together very well in the house. but from the start, this was happening. i mean this is a party that voted entirely against the stimulus package that was going to bring money to their districts and states. if you're going to vote against money going to your districts and states to help people get jobs or back into work or deal with unemployment, then this stuff saddam hussein beyond the pale. i think party unity will be pretty easy for them at this stage. >> harry reid has done a brilliant job of putting the 60-vote coalition of his caucus together on health care reform. just an astonishingly brilliant tactical job could go that. is there any chance he can pull those 60 votes out of a hat on climate change? >> on parts of climate change, yes. you're going to see money going to, again, districts and states,
10:50 pm
things like technology. you can expect the coal states to be bought off with a supposed clean coal technology. but the cap and trade, the stuff that's going to impose costs on the economy and even the president as a candidate said it would be costly, things that threaten to change the face of the economy, that stuff isn't going to survive. technology and money, yes. >> richard wolffe, many thanks. >> thang, lawrence. still ahead, she used to be just your average beauty queen. but one question about gay marriage and a whole lot of sex tapes later, carrie prejean is above average entertainment. national car rental knows i'm picky.
10:51 pm
so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious! okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro.
10:52 pm
10:53 pm
when miss california carrie prejean told a gay man at a beauty pageant that he shouldn't be allowed to get married, she showed up on the "countdown" radar. when she put keith olbermann and
10:54 pm
michael musto in her lawsuit against the pageant that stole her crown, she was on the fast track to becoming a show favorite. in our number one story, when word of a sex tape came out, carrie prejean was a lock for "countdown" favorites of 2009. that whole program airs next week. tonight, a sneak peek at carrie prejean. >> when she told perez hilton she believed in opposite marriage, carrie prejean was prayed by the right for telling truth over the tiara. but when she became opposite employed the tiara suddenly stopped looking so bad after all. she claims religious discrimination and sues, mentioning this program and msnbc in the lawsuit. the man at the center of the controversy is michael musto. to analyze his precarious position i'll be joined in a moment by musto. she filed lawsuit against miss california pageant officials
10:55 pm
citing slander, libel, public disclosure of private facts, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and religious discrimination, all of this stretching way back to her original statement on gay marriage at the usa pageant in april. >> we live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. and, you know what, in my country, and in my family, i think that i believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. no offense to anybody out there. but that's how i was raised and that's how i think it should be, between a man and a woman. >> following that response, she was outed for using performance enhancers that the miss california association paid for. topless photos surfaced. less than a month after donald trump told her she could keep the crown she was fired for contract violations. now comes a 23-page lawsuit. on top of page 8, 41, on april 30, 2009 --
10:56 pm
if only we had some way of replaying all those vile things that were asserted in the vicious attack. >> she sort of is like a human barbie doll. you tell perez hilton you're against gay marriage, like telling simon cowell against screeching a show tune. she thinks the innuendo is an italian sup pos tri-. on the pageants they should have easier questions like what was your middle name or what show was "seinfeld" on. i didn't even like her earrings. >> the moral in this is never cross a beauty pageant official who knows you've had implants? >> that's it. this escalated to a public shaving. what moakler left out is they also paid for carrie to cut off her penis, sand her adam's apple and get head to toe waxing.
10:57 pm
now she's a babe who needs a brain implant. maybe they could inject some fat from her butt? oh, they have? >> i didn't like her earrings. joining me now, tonight's legal analyst, michael must yoe. how does it feel to be mentioned in a carrie prejean lawsuit? is there pride mixed with a kind of apprehension mixed with a kind of what took her so long? >> i'm thrilled, keying. not since last year since she covered her face have i gotten this attention. i'm thrilled she watches this show, not dora the "explorer" or real housewives. >> she has a book coming out in november. presumably the lawsuit keeps her in the light until then. if you're in the lawsuit, will you be in the book? >> i better be in the book. i got a sneak peek at the manuscript and only refers to some guy who should not get married to opposite people and also shouldn't wear polyester blend because that's against the bible, too. i consider that a mention. >> and the end of carrie prejean. a sex tape from little miss
10:58 pm
preservation of marriage? not same-sex. not opposite sex. just kind of mono six. >> californiaee prejean and the miss california pageant had dueling lawsuits. she wanted a million dollars for wrongful dethroning. the pageant sought reimbursement for prejean's breast implants. they appeared headed for court until, according to, pageant attorneys played with her and her lawyers present a woman engaged in a sex. the beauty queen said that's disgusting. then the camera panned to reveal the woman and it was carrie prejean. guess she forgot. red faced and caught red handed her demands changed from a million dollars to covering her legal fees. cover the legal fees, none of this would have happened. carrie prejean goes on nbc and calls out me? >> if sean hannity went out there and said some of the things that keith olbermann has said about me, you know, if he
10:59 pm
said anything about sonya sotomayor or michelle obama, he would be off the air. >> hey, lady, first, you're not sotomayor or michelle obama. second, he's said worse about than i said about you. and, third, you made a sex tape that wound up being shown to your mother. free speech and first amendment rights of the dethroned miss california carrie prejean have been so silenced her freedom so denied she's only done three national tv interviews in the last 24 hours including one in the downstairs part of this studio. our number one story, did she leave any more of those personal videos hanging around? >> you can call it whatever you want to call it. if you want to call it a sex tape, that's fine. >> what would you call it? >> it was me by myself. >> there are people who say they want to call you on the carpet when they feel you're a hypocrite. in your book you write our bodies are temples of the lord. not to show skin to look sexy. >> absolutely. >> now people have seen this